Kasab hanging robs BJP of an issue, say experts

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 21, 2012 14:30 hrs

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) The hanging of terrorist Ajmal Kasab for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks has robbed the BJP of an issue in the Gujarat polls and parliament's winter session, but it is unlikely to be of much electoral advantage to the Congress either, say analysts.

Kasab, the sole surviving gunman of the terror attack of Nov 26, 2008, was hanged in a Pune jail at 7.30 a.m. Wednesday, after his mercy plea was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee earlier this month.

The hanging took place a day before the start of the winter session of parliament and in the middle of campaign for next month's Gujarat assembly elections.

Political analyst Aswini K. Ray said the decision might have been taken in view of Gujarat elections and winter session beginning Nov 22.

"It is possible. Can't deny that. But there is overall acceptance that it was long overdue and has been done. I can say well done. One can't fault the government. It has done a reasonably good job and the step has overwhelming public support," Ray told IANS.

Ray, a former professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said Kasab's execution was unlikely to make major difference to the fortunes of the Congress in the Gujarat elections.

"Gujarat polls will be based on local politics" he said, adding that the BJP has lost an issue for the elections.

He said if Kasab's death sentence had not been executed, the BJP would have raised the issue in parliament Nov 26, the fourth anniversary of Mumbai attack which claimed 166 lives and injured 300 people.

Nine of Kasab's associates, who had sneaked into Mumbai for the three−day carnage, were secretly buried in the city in January 2010.

Nisar−ul−Haq, head of the department of political science at Jamia Millia Islamia, said BJP had lost an issue with Kasab's hanging.

"I can't say if the timing (of execution) had any political significance but BJP has lost an issue"," he said.

BJP leaders admitted that Kasab's execution had taken away an issue of the party against the Congress−led United Progressive Alliance government.

"It would not have an impact in Gujarat elections but the Congress effort is to take away core issues of the BJP," a party leader told IANS.

The BJP leader said the government might also like to expedite the execution of death penalty awarded to parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. Guru's mercy petition is pending with the president.

Ajai Sahni, a security analyst, said Kasab's hanging would not make a major impact to Congress' fortunes in Gujarat.

"I do not think it will become a major issue. It will have a very marginal impact," he said.

Sahni said it was wrong to view the hanging from the prism of elections.

Subrata Mukherjee, a former professor of Delhi University, said the Congress could not think of deriving political advantage of Kasab's execution in the Gujarat elections.

"It could have helped perhaps if Afzal was also hanged simultaneously," he said.

Mukherjee said the BJP had lost an issue following Kasab's execution but it was not likely to affect the party's prospects in Gujarat.

The Congress leaders IANS spoke to said the party would not take mileage of Kasab's execution in Gujarat elections.

They downplayed questions on the timing of execution, saying the decision to reject Kasab's mercy petition was taken by the president.

Party leaders, however, admitted that the decision may strike a popular chord in Maharashtra.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who conveyed the decision of the president to the Maharashtra government, is a former chief minister of the state.

Shinde was appointed home minister in July.

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